Friday, April 11, 2008

Michael C. Flanigan - Real Artists Create Their Own Paths

Today, Kevin Goodman is my guest blogger. He has an important story to tell about the exceptional life of Michael C. Flanigan, poet and artist. We hope you enjoy it. Kevin has graciously decided that this shall be a Creative Commons Article, in hopes that you will repost it and spread the word to inspire others to over come the odds and make their own opportunities for success.
After reading this story you’ll be inspired to put the worst behind you and reach for your dreams. Michael C Flanigan has plenty to complain about but instead he is inspired. This abused orphan and ninth grade dropout became an author, a college teacher, and peer to some of the twentieth century’s greatest poets.

Michael was orphaned at the age of nine. His father killed his mother and then committed suicide. He probably would have been murdered too if he hadn’t sensed something wrong and ran away that day. Young Michael went to live with his grandparents on their rural family farm. He credits his grandfather’s simple ethics and unconditional love as being his salvation. Hardships at the farm and memories of a violent past eventually drove Michael into a breakdown. Michael left school in the ninth grade and spent three years in the state mental institution.

Despite the setbacks, he was an avid learner and spent his free time reading the classics, writing poetry, drawing, and painting. Determined to become a professional poet, the self-educated Flanigan ran away to New York City at the tender age of 17.

By 1965 Michael migrated to Buffalo where he managed to befriend and turn mentor the late Charles Olson (father of the Black Mountain Poets).Michael read at poetry events with the likes of Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, David Landrey, and Stanley Kubrick to name a few.

In 1967 Michael started his own publishing company and by 1969 he had published several books. In 1969 Michael became a faculty member at Buffalo State as artist in residence. Not titled a professor per se but he did earn the faculty merit award in 1970 and remained artist in residence until 1972.

Michael considers his career peak to be when Stanley Kubrick nominated his book ‘Scrapbooks’ for the Pulitzer. Michael recounts “Stanley said they wouldn’t give it to me, ‘but someday you might win’”. Michael say’s “That Stanley Kubrick considering me a great poet was the greatest honor. Well; aside from being accepted by Charles {Olson} as a student.”

From 1972 until the mid-nineties Michael conducted poetry workshops at over a dozen universities in the US and Canada and nearly a thousand junior high and high schools. Michael retired with his wife into rural Indiana near the campus of Indiana University in 1996. While his nine books are all currently out of print he is working with his agent to bring back the collected volumes along with his new and never before published poems and the biography of his unlikely life.

Michael many incarnations include a neglected, humiliated, and abused child, an orphan, a survivor, a mental patient, a self- educated entrepreneur, a college teacher, and an artist. Michael doesn’t believe he is special or great and credits his successes with being determined and open.

“I went all the way to Buffalo New York and I harassed Americas greatest poet (referring to Charles Olson) until he critiqued my work. When I couldn’t find a publisher for my first book I started my own publishing house. When my residency with the university expired, I created a traveling workshop and sold my program to the schools. You got to go after the best artist you can find, they have an obligation to teach and critique, you’ll earn a valuable reference," Flanigan says.

Michael offers this profound advice, "If you’re an artist and you’re determined, you’ll make a career. Real artists don’t give up they make a path for themselves when it’s not given to them.”

Michael is an inspiration to artist and writers, to those who have been abused, suffered mental illness, and those who have educated themselves but lack the ‘credentials’. Help Michael demonstrate the worth of his story by sharing this article with your friends. By forwarding and sharing this article you’ll not only be sharing inside news before it hits the wires you’ll be helping Michael demonstrate the value of his story to potential publishers.

Kevin D Goodman
SDMC/Artist Agent
The article is Creative Commons - Please share it as you see fit.


sctshep said...

Great story.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

What a beautiful post.

Hugs, JJ

Lisa McGlaun said...

JJ and Scott,

The thanks goes to Kevin Goodman. I'm so glad he passed on this story to me and was willing to guest blog.

If he has any other ideas or articles that fit LifePrints, I hope he will work with me again.

Pass the word about Michael, it's a worthy story.


Kevin Goodman said...

Thanks Lisa. I am so glad you shared it and thanks to Sctshep and Nature nut for taking time to read it.

Lisa McGlaun said...


I hope it helps. I'm off for the rest of the week so your post will remain on my front page for a while. Send Michael my best. If there is anything I can do to further his goals please let me know.


Anonymous said...

I met Michael in the late 60s, and was a close friend until we drifted apart. Could anyone tell him Jess would like to get back in touch? I have a lot of old and new poetry that I'm sure he'd love to read, a lot of stories to share. Most of all, I'd like to know he's well and happy!
Joe Simmons